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Spring Statement 2022 | What did it say about philanthropy?

Those hoping for a mention (or even an implication) of philanthropy in today’s Spring Statement from Rishi Sunak will be left sorely disappointed.

In the half-hour address to the House of Commons, the Chancellor did not touch on the subject at all.

This will come as no surprise to most working in the charity sector. Especially given the single mention of philanthropy in February’s 332 page Levelling-Up white paper.

“This Statement was always going to focus heavily on bi-lateral aid and tax reform.”

Set against a backdrop of the war in Ukraine and the cost-of-living crisis, this Statement was always going to focus heavily on bi-lateral aid and tax reform.

Kicking things off, the Chancellor spoke about the financial and military support the UK is providing to Ukraine. He also commented on the 1,000 Russian individuals and institutions sanctioned by the government since the war’s outbreak.

Looking to the grim domestic situation, Sunak claimed that the Ukraine crisis had largely amplified the rise in energy and fuel costs – an assertion disputed immediately by Shadow Chancellor Rachel Reeves in her response.

Notwithstanding the ‘rabbit-out-the-hat’ 1% decrease in income tax by 2024, the three main pillars to the Statement were:

  • Fuel duty will be cut by 5 pence per litre until March next year.
  • VAT on sustainable building materials (solar panels, wind turbines, etc) will be been dropped entirely for 5 years.
  • The Household Support Fund will be increased from £500m to £1b.

“We know that many donors are already ploughing their own money into solving these issues.”

These are initiatives which the Chancellor himself said would cost billions of pounds. However, as with the pricey Levelling-Up white paper, philanthropy again was not considered in contributing to this sum.

But why not? We know that many donors are already ploughing their own money into solving these issues. Last year, a collective of philanthropists and investors joined forces to raise $100bn worth of private capital for the development of green grids in the UK and India.

In addition, National Energy Action – which received a £100,000 donation from Martin Lewis this January as well as being supported by other philanthropists – is busy undertaking a range activities to help poor households with their energy costs.

We’re even seeing examples of philanthropy operating in these areas within our own network. For example, Tom Flood of The Paul Cornes Fund spoke to us about keeping hundreds of residents warm in Dorset each year through covering the cost of vulnerable people’s fuel bills.

“There are various barriers to wealthy giving but lack of means and motivation are not high among them.”

Wealthy individuals and foundations clearly have both the capacity and the commitment to pour money into the public good. But while some are leading the charge of their own volition, many are yet to contribute.

Our research shows that there are various barriers to wealthy giving but lack of means and motivation are not high among them. Indeed, if effort was put into engaging wealthy individuals in philanthropy, the UK could benefit from more than £2 billion extra per year.

Philanthropy is already highlighting the issues of fuel and food poverty, but philanthropy itself receives no acknowledgement.

“Society could get the opportunity to benefit from substantial philanthropic funding.”

The fact is, there exists a wealth of untapped private capital that can be used for the public good. With direct communication and stimulation from the government, society could get the opportunity to benefit from substantial philanthropic funding.

But if we miss the opportunity to engage wealthy individuals at opportunities like these, we’ll all feel the pinch even more.